Statement by Minister Steven Guilbeault on Canada Day
OTTAWA, July 1, 2021
This Canada Day, let’s reflect on how we as a country can ensure everyone in Canada feels safe and has access to equal opportunities in our society.
We have shown compassion and resilience throughout the pandemic. Working within COVID-19 guidelines, Canadians have reached out to each other and helped family, friends and neighbours get through this difficult time together. We can be proud of and grateful for all first responders, healthcare and front line workers who have worked tirelessly in these challenging times.
I share with many Canadians the shock and horror of the unmarked burial sites found on or near the grounds of former Indian Residential Schools. Commemorations have sprung up across Canada, mourning these children whose lives were cut short and acknowledging the missing children, the families left behind and the survivors of residential schools.
Much work still needs to be done on the path toward truth and reconciliation and we all have a role to play. The National Day of Truth and Reconciliation Bill recently received Royal Assent, which means Canadians will honour survivors, their families and communities each year on September 30. This day will help ensure that acknowledging the tragic history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital part of the reconciliation process.
I also invite you to take time today to learn about the role our institutions played in establishing the residential school system, challenge your own views and assumptions, and explore the rich and diverse cultures, voices, experiences and histories of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. We must engage in open and constructive dialogue so everyone can learn from the atrocities and systemic violence against Indigenous peoples and honour their cultures, traditions, languages and important contributions to Canada.
To move forward toward a brighter future, we need to examine disturbing aspects of our history and the ongoing reality of systemic racism, trauma and neglect that continues to harm many communities in Canada. Our country should be a place for all to live together in harmony. Inclusion is not simply a word, it is a state of being that takes work and commitment. Each one of us has a role to play in defeating hate and racism.
Although we have much work to do, I share a spirit of hope that we can achieve great things together and create a more inclusive, empathetic and diverse society where everyone has a role to play in building a better Canada.
This year, more than ever, Canada Day invites Canadians to show empathy, understanding and awareness. I encourage you to create a special Canada Day at home. Join the activities that are taking place across the country and support our fantastic Canadian artists. Watch the Canada Day evening program highlighting Canada’s artistic diversity, including talented Indigenous artists.
For more information (media only), please contact:
Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage
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